How I’m Learning to Code At 35

The irony of this blog post title is that when I was 18 years old I attended my local community college and enrolled in the Computer Science degree program. I guess you can tell by the title that 17 years later, I didn’t stick to that path.
My path in life instead made a lot of winding turns, until I ended up working for a great company but not headed in the direction I wanted to be. At 35, the prospect of making enough money to support myself alone throughout my life without struggling to do so was not very high, despite holding this job for 10+ years.
Although I am very grateful for the experience and opportunities I’ve had at my current position, I know something needs to change. That something has to be me, and that change is a completely new field. Whereas now I am an Accounts Receivable Specialist, my future self will be a Full Stack Developer. I’m documenting this journey here, and it officially started on April 1st.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching what this new potential career might entail. What programming languages I need to learn for front end and back end. Whether I should dedicate a few years in my already rather late start with a Computer Science degree, or if I should attempt to jump-start it via the newer “boot camp" route. All things, I’m sure, that many people before me have questioned.
I joined LinkedIn groups, Slack communities, talked to friends in the field, friends not in the field, family members, and complete strangers. I’ve been scouring the web reading articles, taking intro courses into JavaScript, and ultimately come to the profound conclusion that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing or where I will start with all this.
This is real life, isn’t it? I’ve also started a mental collection of the not-so-great side to programming. The non-glamorous part of it that is less Felicity-Smoak-save-the-world excitement, and more staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Many of those I talked to said that being a developer is a frustrating pursuit. You are constantly spending hours on something but may get nowhere. Is this truly something I want to do?
I’ve learned how coding is especially a "mindset", not just spewing back syntax on a screen. That learning to code is about coding within a team; within real-life situations that go far beyond printing console.log(‘Hello’+ ‘World’); or rect(722, 160, 150, 300); to a screen. (Yes, I did just learn that from Codecademy, thanks for noticing.)
It’s about working a much broader approach "where you systematically break down a problem into individual and logical steps and then recreate that in a language that the computer understands."
Despite all that, I’m not discouraged. I’ve also learned that although programming can be challenging, you are apart of an amazing community. I’ve already talked to so many people online through these communities who have encouraged me, helped me and given me advice. Whatever direction this new path leads to, I’m confident I can follow it.
For better or worse - challenge accepted.
Author Note: This blog post was originally posted on my blog on Medium. You can find me there in my bio or go here. I found the community after already starting my blog on Medium. I’m in love with it and am testing out posting on this platform.